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    A stroke is a dramatic, sometimes life-altering event. While the effects of a stroke differ from person to person, there is one constant: the benefits of stroke rehabilitation therapy. Chelsea Shors, OTR/L, OTD, an Occupational Therapist at Pullman Regional Hospital’s Summit Therapy & Health Services, is experienced with helping stroke patients regain mobility and quality of life.


    What is stroke rehabilitation?


    “The effects of a stroke vary from person to person. Stroke rehabilitation begins when an individual is admitted to the hospital or evaluated by a medical doctor and given the diagnosis,” says Shors. Oftentimes, therapy is a team approach which incorporates a Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and Speech Therapist (if necessary) in determining the best plan of action to help people return to their prior level of function. 


    “Stroke rehabilitation is truly a team approach. The medical doctor, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, and Social Worker determine whether rehabilitation would be most successful in an inpatient rehabilitation facility, skilled nursing facility, home health, or an outpatient clinic,” explains Shors. 


    How soon after a stroke should rehabilitation start?


    Research has shown that the sooner rehabilitation begins after a stroke, the better. As long as a patient is medically stable, rehabilitation can begin in as soon as 24 hours. Shors agrees that “patients who have an early start to rehabilitation have been shown to have better outcomes and tend to reach a higher level of function.”  


    Even with very mild impairments, stroke rehabilitation can assist in reaching previous levels of functioning or improve their current function. This can include help with physical needs such as balance, coordination, movement, and sensation, as well as activities of daily living.


    “I like to think of activities of daily living as things we do every day, tasks that are important to us. It can be as simple as brushing your teeth and getting dressed, to preparing a meal and driving your car. It can also include personal hobbies and activities related to your job,” describes Shors. 


    Rehabilitation efforts can also include helping cognitive impairments, speech and language formation, and the ability to swallow. “We like to involve the caregivers as well, so we can provide suggestions and advice for how to best care for your loved one at home,” adds Shors. 


    How long does stroke rehabilitation take?


    Stroke rehabilitation is a continuum of care, meaning that there is communication when transitioning care from a hospital to a rehabilitation facility to home. This helps avoid gaps or miscommunication in the rehabilitation journey. The duration of rehabilitation depends on the level of impairment the stroke caused, as well as when the rehabilitation starts. “Research has shown that individuals gain their recovery best in the first year post-stroke, but I have seen improvements past a year- sometimes even a few years,” recounts Shors. 


    Should you encounter a need for stroke rehabilitation therapy for yourself or a loved one, Shors wants you to know that “our ultimate goal as a rehabilitation team is to see the individual reach their maximum potential by coaching, encouraging, and celebrating progress.” 

    If you’re interested in learning more about Chelsea Shors, Occupational Therapy, and the rehabilitation options available to you, visit Summit Therapy & Health Services online or give them a call at (509) 332-5106.

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